ST. ANDREWS – Keen to immerse himself in the history of the Old Course at St. Andrews, Jon Rahm attempted to pick the brains of the great Lee Trevino at the home of golf this week.
Rahm was fascinated to learn, for example, that the storied course was meant to play clockwise rather than the other way round.
“A little bit of interesting history,” Rahm said on Tuesday, before adding with a smile: “I don’t know if it’s true.”
Indeed, Rahm would love to use some of his down time at the British Open to visit a couple of the bookstores in St. Andrews in a search for more golf history. He said there are too many people around town to do that, though, so is relying on some of his own memories to fire him up ahead of a bid for a second major title.
And it’s no surprise that one stands out.
“I don’t want to go with the obvious,” he said, “but 1984 was very special for Spanish people. I’m going to go with that — that image of Seve celebrating. It’s an iconic image not only for us but for the world of golf.”
That image, of the much-loved Seve Ballesteros twice thrusting his arm into the air before walking off the 18th green with his arm around his caddie, marked the second of his three wins at golf’s oldest major championship.
No Spaniard has won it since. Rahm has long dreamed of emulating his compatriot and idol.
“This is truly the pinnacle of golf,” he said. “I don’t think it gets any better than winning at St. Andrews.
“No offense to any other tournament in the world. It’s the oldest championship on the oldest course and where it all started.”
Rahm’s first — and so far only — competitive rounds at the Old Course were during the Dunhill Links Championship on the European tour in 2019. He learned about the vagaries of the wind off St. Andrews Bay, the risk-and-reward element of the course, and — of course — to not hit it right.
Since then, he has become the world’s top-ranked player and validated that status by winning his first major title at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2021.
A second major looked like being in reach in his title defense at Brookline last month, when he went into the final round a shot off the lead even though he was “searching for his swing.”
A closing 74 dropped him into a tie for 12th, and he arrives at St. Andrews at No. 3 in the world ranking and on the back of a tie for 55th place at the Scottish Open last week over the links at The Renaissance Club.
Finishing third at Royal St. George’s last year was his best performance in five British Opens and, for Rahm, there would be nowhere better to lift the claret jug than at St. Andrews on the 150th staging of the event.
Jack Nicklaus, who won at St. Andrews in 1970 and 1978, once said: “If you’re going to be a player people will remember, you have to win the Open at St. Andrews.”
Rahm can see where Nicklaus is coming from.
“It can almost put your career to another level,” he said, “just because how great of a venue this one is.”
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